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Gupta wedding guests in SA legally

Cabinet confirmed that all Gupta guests have visas and should not be called ‘illegal immigrants'.

Guests arrive at the Waterkloof Air Force Base for the Gupta wedding. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.
Local

JOHANNESBURG - Cabinet confirmed that all the passengers who arrived at the Waterkloof Air Force Base for the Gupta nuptials applied for visas to enter South Africa.

But it has described the incident as ‘unfortunate’. 

Controversy has raged after a privately chartered jet carrying around 200 Gupta wedding guests from India landed at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Pretoria on Tuesday. 

Almost all of the questions from journalists have been about the use of the military base by the Guptas' guests.  

Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane would not be drawn on too many details, but said a full investigation will be conducted. 

“As many people have said, this is a serious matter and therefore we should allow those who are supposed to do an investigation to get all their facts on the table. Action will definitely be taken against anyone who may have played a critical role in this matter.”

He said those who entered the country should not be described as ‘illegal immigrants’.

“People have described this situation in many ways but the fact remains we have a matter in front of us that needs to be dealt with.”

Chabane could not say whether police will now withdraw the special escorts used to transport guests from the airport to the wedding at Sun City. 

Meanwhile, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) confirmed it was first approached by an official from the Gupta-owned Sahara Computers for permission to use the Waterkloof Air Force Base, but the request was denied.

International Relations have since suspended its Chief Protocol Officer, Bruce Koloane, as it investigates who authorised the aircraft to land at the national key point.

The defence force said it was approached by a Sahara Computers representative to assist in approving a request to use the Waterkloof Air Force Base that was to be sent by the Indian High Commission. 

The department spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the quest for help was dismissed and Sahara was advised to ask the Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA).

Dlamini said they never expected there would be further efforts to secure the air force base via diplomatic channels.

He said the Indian High Commission submitted the application to International Relations adding that Koloane dealt directly with the air force and not Defence headquarters.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula rescinded the authorisation and initiated an investigation.

It’s also reported that President Jacob Zuma will not be attending the wedding at Sun City.

He is headed to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for a meeting about the Central African Republic (CAR).

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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